Mon, Oct 16, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Stade bounce back to beat French champs Biarritz

AFP , PARIS

Stade Francais bounced back from their first defeat of the season last weekend to beat champions Biarritz 22-16 at the Stade de France on Saturday to maintain their grip on the French title race.

It was Stade's 10th win in 11 outings this season and was the perfect response to their surprise 15-9 setback against Montauban which put an end to their 100 percent league record.

Saturday's win, watched by 80,000 spectators, also preserved their 11-point lead over Clermont who beat Brive 44-3. Toulouse stay third after a 20-9 win at bottom club Bayonne.

Stade had the match wrapped up by half-time when they opened up a 22-6 lead with Julien Saubade scoring a try from their first attack in the fifth minute.

David Skrela kicked 17 points in the opening period to put the game out of reach of the champions who stay in fourth spot in the table, 16 points off the pace.

Biarritz struggled to find any rhythm after the interval and needed a try from hooker Benjamin Noirot five minutes from the end and a penalty three minutes later from Dimitri Yachvili to put a little gloss on the result.

Stade's victory was tempered, however, when it emerged that South African flanker Shaun Sowerby, who was taken off in the 43rd minute, may have suffered a broken left leg which could sideline him for six months.

Elsewhere, Clermont ran in five tries in their destruction of Brive for their third successive win.

Elvis Vermeulen crossed in the 20th minute before skipper Aurelien Rougerie added a second try on the half-hour mark.

A penalty try came their way 10 minutes into the second half before Raphael Chanal and prop David Zirakashvili completed the rout.

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